Posts Tagged ‘Just’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The day started off with the discussion in the dayroom prior to group about our legacy project, which is what we’ll do for our graduation ceremony on June 10th.  I kicked off the discussion simply because I knew if I didn’t no one here would as non of us are all that excited about doing anything for the ceremony.  This project also includes what will put on the program for the ceremony.  I was volunteered due to my computer skills to do that.  I let the guys know I’d come around on Monday to collect the quotes they each want to have under their names on the program which they were okay with, and we decided to use our group mission statements on the back of the program.  Then came the discussion for the name of the group.  I nominated the name “Pyramid” group, as each level on the pyramid represented an attribute in our orientation workbookLarry Sands offered the “Phoenix” group as in out of the ashes of our former lives, we rise up anew, but it was rejected as too complicated to render.  But Russ Johnson offered “The Transformers”, as in us being transformed from MSDF to a new life.  This was accepted.  The drawing was to be of a person half in yellow, half in civilian clothes.  Scott Bunker, who is gifted at drawing, drew up a prototype which pleased the group.  Now he’ll have to draw a much larger rendering for the ceremony.  By the way, Bunker was to finally have that catheter removed today but he has resumed bleeding.  Just not good.  So our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, showed up and we looked at interviewing for jobs.  Though this is old hat for me it was good to cover.  We didn’t have enough handouts of the packet on this so one was passed around.  Then we did role playing.  I volunteered for the interviewer.  The point was to demonstrate a person who was confident or not.  Sands volunteered for the confident role, Augie Prescott volunteered for the not confident role.  It was fun to do and good to brush up on.  By the way, Prescott couldn’t get through to his relatives in Alabama after last nights tornadoes that has killed at least 200 in Alabama, so he’s pretty worried and we all let him know we’re praying for this situation.  We watched a video on interview skills called Why Should I Hire You by J. Michael Farr which was very well done.  After lunch we were awaiting Ms. Grey when it was announced that a tornado warning had been issued.  Guard Ruth Barthowski had us all go to our cells and take the foam mattress off our bunk, sit on the floor and put them over our heads even though we knew it was a drill and threatened to put warnings on the card to anyone who didn’t.  Most took her seriously.  Being that it was Thursday it was time for another Community Meeting.  I did my skit with Johnson’s help.  It went over well once I was told to raise my voice which is easy to forget to do.  That night we worked on a goodbye and birthday card for Barthowski, as she is retiring on Saturday and it also happens to be her birthday soon.  We are sure going to miss her.  As for me, I’m a little uneasy.  I’ve started to crave alcohol and cigarettes lately and I don’t know why.  I’m even having dreams related to it.  Could it be pre-release jitters? Is it stress related to my birth family?  I’m also not as patient with  my cellies as little things are annoying me.  I spent time in prayer prior to bed last night, asking God to ease my mind and renew my faith as I suspect that is at the root of my problem as always. 

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I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As usual Wednesday there are no ERP group sessions so very little happens.  An interesting dynamic has grown between cellies Brian Whalen and Larry Sands.  As was noted previously, Sands likes to tell stories about his sexual conquests and I also mentioned I tune them out.  Well now these two sit there and tell stories to each other.  Whalen as always is trying to tell stories that keep pace with the ones Sands tells.  But Sands busts him as his stories are inconsistent or he confuses details from earlier stories.  At night I put on my headphones as I see this activity as childish and annoying but because during the day no electronics are allowed, I’m forced to hear what’s being said.  But quite frankly, this is nothing in comparison to what it used to be like when Andre Charles was still here.  That night someone actually showed up from the outside world for a Bible study which we haven’t had in awhile.  There are no religious services on Sundays and AA or NA meetings are rarely held.  But as I grabbed my Bible to go and sign out guard Ruth Barthowski let me know no one else was going and it would likely be cancelled.  It’s certainly different than the religion at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) where people from the outside world were constantly coming in and social interaction available it influences their desire to attend a bit.  The next day our ERP group began with the now voluntary breathing exercises, followed by videos on marijuana.  The first two were Hazelden produced entitled The Escape To Nowhere and Lifeline To Recovery.  They focused on the problems that can occur in your life with the abuse of this drug.  The afternoon session was all about another video, Marijuana In The Nineties featuring Dr. David Ohlms.  Yes I know, it’s 2011.  But much of what was said is still true I suppose.  Finishing up the time in the afternoon, our ERP group leader Ms. Grey reviewed my Phase II goals and objectives which I’ll be telling you about soon once they’re approved.  We spent 40 minutes of group time on it with Ms. Grey or I not communicating effectively to each other.  At 3 pm on Thursday it was time for the Community Meeting, which of course our group was later than everyone else as usual.  It started out with the intervention in the incident in the bathroom that ERP group member Scott Dietz had with another inmate.  They had to do a skit re-enacting the scene and write papers on what they learned about each other.  It was painful to watch and listen too as each had been spewing venom about the other since the incident.  But we congratulated them on doing it.  Because a new ERP group started we had to go around and introduce ourselves with name, phase of program, offense we were there for and our hobbies.  Just like they did when we started.  Because of all this it was the longest community meeting I’d seen up to this point.  I was pretty antsy at that point.  I’m generally antsy these days but that’s because I see the light at the end of the tunnel I think.


I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After dealing with the crabby guard, our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, showed up along with intern Nikita and after our normal breathing exercises and prayer we began Week 13 processing of the ERP goals and objectives that had been decided on.  First up, just like when the autobiographies were read was group member Larry Sands.  His goals and objectives dealt with anger and grief dealing with the deaths of his son and father.  Just like when he read his autobiography, Ms. Grey jumped on him for failing to apply the books he’d been given to read to himself.  To be honest she was right.  He really hadn’t.  Next up was John Lloyd.  Lloyd has had something kind of odd go on with him as he’s lost partial muscle control in his left eye, unable to move his left eye all the way to the left.  I became alarmed over the possibility that a minor stroke might be taking place so I encouraged him to submit a blue form to the Heath Services Unit (HSU) on Sunday.  Plus his color is ashen.  I hope I’m wrong.  Anyway, it was kind of interesting, Lloyd read his essay on grief over the death of his father copying a poem from his book and essentially doing a book report as well but Ms. Grey complimented his efforts.  Then he read the letter to his deceased father and broke down in tears several times throughout.  Where Ms. Grey and Nikita were sitting they couldn’t see it but group members Russ Johnson and Kevin House sat and mocked him for doing so.  At the end she motioned group member Scott Bunker to go up and give him a hug.  The people in the room, already silent, shifted their eyes downward and everyone was uncomfortable.  He did give him the hug startling Lloyd.  There was little follow up to the reading of the letter.  We broke for lunch.  Sands caught up with me going on and on about how Ms. Grey was targeting him.  He clearly wanted my agreement.  I just told him she’s trying to reach you, trying not to take the bite.  Prior to the group starting after lunch the topic was the hug given by Bunker to Lloyd.  To Bunker’s credit, he said he didn’t mind.  But Lloyd and the rest just ripped on Bunker and Ms. Grey for it.  As is my custom I sat and listened.  But I knew on one level they were right.  You don’t hug in prison period and that includes MSDF.  If we were in a treatment group outside here I suspect it would be a different situation.  After lunch it was my turn.  First I read my essay on forgiveness based in part on the book Houses of Healing where I told of my path to forgive my biological father for the things that happened.  I read my second essay on the book of Anger Is a Choice by Tim Lahaye.  I also read my letter forgiving my father which came out more confrontational than forgiving.  Ms. Grey seemed ok with what I’d done and there wasn’t much feedback just like with everyone else except Sands.  I noted at the end that the nightmares and aversions to socializing I deal with are still there.  Later that day at mail call, I received a letter from my ex JoAnn.  She wrote she’s been dating a new guy who has been helpful to my former step-daughter Lisa.  I’m not the first guy in prison whose family’s needs are being met by a new guy.  Doesn’t make it any less painful of course.  I spent a good portion of the night unable to sleep.  I, like most of us guys in prison with families, know in the back of our mind this was going to happen.  But when faced with the reality it still hurts.  The next morning after a couple hours of sleep I prayed for their happiness and asked for the strength to put it behind me and to look forward.  After all, what else can I do?


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). One thing that started yesterday was that it was our cells turn to clean the upper tier of the cellblock after each meal for the next two weeks.  We each get plastic gloves from the desk and go upstairs and clean.  Clean what, is the problem.  I’m the kind of guy that wants to know my assignment and let me go and get it.  I have little patience for “busy work” or standing around wondering what to do.  But if your not cleaning the bathroom that is essentially what you are doing.  So in a really weird paradox, the one job you’d think nobody would want – cleaning toilets and sinks – everyone in my cell wants to do so we’re not guessing what to do.  Of course, I find something to do.  I sweep the tier though I actually pick up very little.  I want to do this every time so I can know what to expect, but the other guys in the cell don’t want to do that.  They want to discuss what job each person will do each time.  My thought process/reaction is probably like this: “Oh man give me the worst job each time so I can get this done and move on.  Just STOP TALKING!”  A few companies I worked for as an IT guy and Software Developer, I chafed under the same idea that talking equals work.  In some ways, I find the discussion more stressful and complex than the actual work.  My ex-wife knew enough to give me a list of things to do and then get out of my way.  If this is a character defect or character asset, you decide.  But I’ve been like that since I can remember.  Everything was fine until breakfast.  I pulled out my broom to sweep the tier but not everyone was done eating.  One guy said to me to wait till everyone was done so dust wasn’t in their food.  He was right of course.  My problem was he yelled it to me in front of everyone.  Again, another pet peeve of mine is being called out in front of others.  I prefer one on one.  But that won’t happen all the time.  I said nothing and waited, then swept.  The guys then went to their ERP group.  Last week, no one cared if those of us not in the program slept during the day.  Today they cared.  We’ve seen guards who make up the rules as they go, but I’m convinced that wasn’t the case this time.  The guard came to my door and I was sitting on my bunk so he moved on.  But moments later Malik Pearl came with a smile on his face told me I can’t sleep even if I’m not part of the ERP group yet. I asked what prompted all of this and he replied that even though we weren’t part of the ERP group we still had rules to follow.  I then observed Malik and Andre Charles and the social worker talking and pointing up to the cell.  I’ pretty sure I know what’s going on here.  In their ERP group there was a discussion concerning non=program people and that complaint got raised which got the guard involved.  The guard, they don’t just suddenly get a spurt of ambition and create a rule that didn’t exist before.  Now whether Malik and Andre were behind it, I’m not sure but the fact Malik showed up right after the guard came by and announced the rule tells me I’m going to have to remember though they share my cell, they are not to be trusted.  It disappoints me as I would like to build a circle of people I trust.  But even though this is the ERP, I’m still in prison and I can’t forget that. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). I got up about 4 am at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) knowing it was my day to go, so I could shave and shower as experience has taught me there are no guarantees how things might go initially.  Then I went back to my bunk and slept.  About 7 am, the guard woke me up and told me it was time to go.  I cleaned up my remaining linens.  My cellie told me “not to let the door hit me in the a—“ with a smile on his face.  They told me to walk down to Unit 10 where another inmate named Scott Bunker on his way to MSDF for ERP as well joined me.  He had gotten to keep his electronics the last 5 days!  The guards gave him a hard time about that in a good natured way.  They pretended to strip search us and then got on the same kind of bus that brought me to FMCI.  We were joined by John Lloyd, who had managed to get staffed straight to ERP at MSDF from Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  I let him know how totally lucky he was.  John was in for his 5th DUI and Scott was in for his 7th DUI.  John had some good news.  He had reviewed the “handbook” on each institution and our ERP was only 13 weeks!  I was on cloud 9!  I’m going to be out by April!  We got to MSDF, which is across the street from the Milwaukee County Courthouse and got sent to a holding cell.  Everything screams a county jail to me here from the dingy walls to the layout of the facility.  They took the greens issued to me my first day in prison.  They gave me bright yellow clothes with a white t-shirt.  I look like a banana!  Then they went through my property.  Turns out I got to keep everything except the clothes I bought out of the catalogs, including my electronics which everyone said I couldn’t keep.  Now I’m in a great mood!  They threw away my old badge, gave me a new one and the nurse checked in.  All of the staff was by far the most professional and courteous I’ve seen in my time in jail or prison.  Then we got lunch.  Oh boy.  It was some kind of hoagie and it tasted awful.  Again, the food resembles county jail food.  Well, I wanted to lose weight so I’ll get that wish.  I got to the 4th floor where I was assigned a cell.  Top bunk again of course.  It’s a 4 person cell with 4 full length grayish blue lockers in front, 2 bunks on each side, 2 TV stands on each side, and 2 desks.  The walls are a dingy white with a maroon door.  Just like a county jail its a 2-tier setup. My 3 cellies were all there and they clearly weren’t expecting me as my locker and TV stand were being used.  Then they dropped the bomb on me.  Its actually a 24-week program.  We’re talking June release.  I got bummed.  How could I be so stupid as to believe inmate information?  We’ve learned this over and over again.  I got settled in, figured out where the TV shows I watch were.  I’ve got till December 13th to get used to this place.  I’m so very tired.